Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20080058912 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/516,172
Publication dateMar 6, 2008
Filing dateSep 6, 2006
Priority dateSep 6, 2006
Also published asUS7908018
Publication number11516172, 516172, US 2008/0058912 A1, US 2008/058912 A1, US 20080058912 A1, US 20080058912A1, US 2008058912 A1, US 2008058912A1, US-A1-20080058912, US-A1-2008058912, US2008/0058912A1, US2008/058912A1, US20080058912 A1, US20080058912A1, US2008058912 A1, US2008058912A1
InventorsDavid O'Brien
Original AssigneeO'brien David
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Flexible electrode
US 20080058912 A1
Abstract
An electrode array has a flexible body supporting a plurality of electrodes. Each electrode comprises an exposed connector pad at the upper end of the body, an exposed recording/stimulating pad at the lower end of the body, and a conductor located within the body and electrically connecting the connector pad and the recording/stimulating pad. In one embodiment the electrode array has an elongated recording/stimulating portion coiled or folded to distribute the exposed recording/stimulating pads in three dimensions. An implantation method employs an introducer with a helical portion to which an end of the flexible electrode is attached. The helical portion straightens to pass through a small-diameter cannula and then resumes its helical configuration to place the recording/stimulating portion of the attached electrode in a helix within the patient's tissues.
Images(20)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. An apparatus comprising:
an introducer having an upper portion, a lower helical portion, and a distal tip; and
a flexible electrode having a connector area adjacent its upper end, an electrode recording/stimulating section adjacent its lower end, and a signal conducting region in its intermediate portion electrically interconnecting the connector area and the electrode recording/stimulating section;
said lower end of said electrode being attached to said lower portion of said introducer;
whereby rotation of said introducer rotates said flexible electrode.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said lower end of said electrode being attached to said lower portion of said introducer comprises said electrode recording/stimulating section of said electrode being attached to said lower helical portion of said introducer.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said lower end of said electrode being attached to said lower portion of said introducer electrode comprises said lower end of said electrode being adhesively bonded to said lower portion of said introducer.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said electrode is releasably attached to said introducer.
5. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein said electrode is adhesively bonded to said introducer by an adhesive that dissolves when exposed to fluids within the body of a patient.
6. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said adhesive is mannitol.
7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said introducer is comprises of a shape-memory material.
8. An apparatus comprising:
a substantially planar electrode body,
an electrode comprising an electrode pad at a lower end, a connector pad at an upper end, and a conductor electrically connecting said electrode pad and said connector pad;
said conductor being enclosed within said body;
a first opening in said body in registry with said electrode pad so as to expose said electrode pad to the ambient; and
a second opening in said body in registry with said connector pad so as to expose said connector pad to the ambient.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said substantially planar electrode body comprises first and second sheets imposed against one another.
10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said flexible sheets comprise polyimide.
11. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said conductor is sandwiched between said first and second sheets.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said apparatus has a thickness of from approximately 1 micron to approximately 10 microns.
13. The apparatus of claim 8,
wherein said body comprises a first elongated segment and a second elongated segment extending laterally from a lower portion of said first elongated segment; and
wherein said electrode pads are elongated and extend along said second elongated segment.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein said second elongated segment is coiled into a cylinder.
15. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein said second elongated segment is folded onto itself to create a three-dimensional structure.
16. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said electrode comprises a first electrode, said electrode pad comprises a first electrode pad, said connector pad comprises a first connector pad, and said conductor comprises a first conductor, and wherein said apparatus further comprises:
an electrode comprising a second electrode pad at a lower end, a second connector pad at an upper end, and a second conductor electrically connecting said second electrode pad and said second connector pad.
17. The electrode of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of additional electrodes.
18. A method of introducing a portion of an electrode into the tissues of a patient, comprising:
providing an introducer having a proximal portion, a distal end, and a distal helical portion;
providing a flexible electrode having a proximal portion and a distal portion, said distal portion of said electrode being attached to said distal end of said introducer;
providing a cannula having an inner diameter smaller than the diameter of said helical portion of said introducer;
inserting a distal end of said cannula into the tissues of a patient and advancing said cannula until said distal end of said cannula is located proximate to a target site;
inserting the lower end of said introducer into the proximal end of said cannula; and
rotating said introducer in the direction of the helix of the distal portion of said introducer and advancing said introducer such that said distal helical portion of said introducer unwinds to pass through said cannula and resumes its helical configuration when it exits the distal end of said cannula;
decoupling said introducer from said flexible electrode; and
rotating said introducer in the direction opposite to the helix of the distal portion of said introducer and withdrawing said introducer such that said distal helical portion of said introducer unwinds to pass through said cannula, leaving said distal helical portion of said flexible electrode implanted in the tissues of said patient.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein said step of providing a flexible electrode rotatably coupled to said introducer comprises the step of providing a flexible electrode adhesively bonded to said introducer.
20. The method of claim 19,
wherein said flexible electrode is adhesively bonded to said introducer by an adhesive that dissolves when exposed to fluid within the tissues of the patient, and
wherein said step of decoupling said introducer from said flexible electrode comprises the step of allowing said adhesive to be dissolved by fluid within the tissues of the patient.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to electrodes for use within the body of a patient and to systems of manufacturing and of implanting such electrodes. More specifically, the invention relates to a flexible electrode that can create a distribution of electrode sites within the interior bulk of a tissue using only one penetration along a single electrode track.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

When used in medical applications, an electrode is an electrically conductive structure that either electrically stimulates or records the electrical activity of surrounding tissue within the body of a patient. Examples of medical applications for electrodes include deep brain stimulation and brain mapping. Deep brain stimulation electrodes have applications in the treatment of Parkinson's, epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, muscle spasticity, schizophrenia, anxiety, coma, addition, migraine, and Alzheimer's, among others.

Conventional medical electrodes present a number of disadvantages. First, known medical electrode arrays cannot be inserted into tissue without causing trauma to the tissue, a characteristic that is especially disadvantageous in the case of deep brain stimulation and brain mapping electrodes. Consequently, known electrode arrays can only be placed on the surface of the brain, making it impossible to stimulate or detect electrical activity below the surface of the brain without causing trauma to delicate brain tissue.

Second, known medical electrodes are typically denser than the tissue into which they are positioned. Thus any sudden acceleration or deceleration can cause movement of the electrode relative to the tissue, resulting in shearing or abrading of the surrounding tissue.

Third, known medical electrodes are typically less compliant than the surrounding tissue. Thus any mechanical vibration that results from energy input into the body will cause relative motion between the electrode and the surrounding tissue, again with the attendant risk of shearing or abrasion of the surrounding tissue.

Electrodes made to have a high degree of compliance are known. A problem with such structures is that they are limited in the manner in which they can interact with a particular tissue. More specifically, such highly flexible electrodes cannot be inserted into tissue because the flexible electrode itself does not have the necessary mechanical stiffness for it to be pushed into the cellular matrix of a given tissue. These devices can only be affixed to the surfaces of a tissue or inserted into a bodily organ that has a hollow cavity, such as the surface of the cochlear membrane, which will allow insertion of the flexible structure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect, the present invention comprises an electrode array having a substantially planar electrode body supporting one or more electrodes. Each of the electrodes comprises an electrode pad at its lower end, a connector pad at its upper end, and a conductor located within the body and electrically connecting the electrode pad and the connector pad. The body has an opening in registry with the electrode pad to the ambient and an opening in registry with the connector pad so as to expose the pads to the ambient.

In another aspect the invention comprises an electrode and an introducer for implanting the recording/stimulating section of the electrode into the tissues of a patient. The introducer has a helical lower portion. The lower end of the electrode is attached to the distal end of the introducer.

In a further aspect of the invention, introducer is used to implant the recording/stimulating section of the electrode into the tissues of a patient. The distal end of a cannula is inserted into the tissues of the patient. The distal end of the introducer is introduced into the cannula. The helical portion of the introducer unwinds to pass through the cannula and reforms into a helix as it exits the lower end of the cannula. The introducer pulls the recording/stimulating section of the electrode along with it to position it in a helical configuration within the tissues of the patient. The introducer is then detached from the electrode and extracted, leaving the electrode in place.

Objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following specification, when taken in conjunction with the drawings and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of an electrode according to a first disclosed embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the electrode of FIG. 1 as seen along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of an electrode of FIG. 1 coupled to an introducer.

FIGS. 4-8 are side views illustrating the use of the introducer of FIG. 3 to implant the electrode of FIG. 1 within the tissues of a patient.

FIG. 9 is a side view of an alternate arrangement of the electrode of FIG. 1 and the introducer of FIG. 3.

FIG. 10 is a side view of an electrode according to a second disclosed embodiment.

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the electrode of FIG. 10 as seen along line 11-11 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the electrode of FIG. 10 as seen along line 12-12 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a side view of the electrode of FIG. 10 showing the electrode array coiled up into a three-dimensional structure.

FIG. 14 is a side view of an apparatus for implanting the device of FIG. 1 into the tissues of a patient.

FIGS. 15-19 are side views illustrating the implantation of the electrode of FIG. 10 within the tissues of a patient.

FIG. 20 is a plan view of the electrode of FIG. 10 showing the electrode array folded up into a three-dimensional structure.

FIGS. 21-37 are side views depicting a series of steps for manufacturing the electrode of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several views, FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a flexible electrode array 10. The electrode array 10 has an upper end 12, a lower end 14, a front 16, and a back 18. The electrode array 10 comprises an insulating body 20 and a plurality of electrodes 21. Each electrode 21 comprises a conductor 22 preferably largely encapsulated inside the insulating body 20, an exposed electrode recording/stimulating pad 24 at the lower end of the body 20, and an exposed connector portion or bonding pad 25 at the upper end of the body. The electrode array 10 of the disclosed embodiment is 1-100 mm in length, 0.01-0.1 mm in width, and 1-10 microns, preferably approximately 1 micron, in thickness.

With further reference to FIG. 1, the electrode array 10 can be viewed in terms of its function. When thus considered, the array includes a connector area 26 adjacent its upper end 12, an electrode recording/stimulating section 28 adjacent its lower end, and a signal conducting region 30 in its intermediate portion interconnecting the connector area 26 and the electrode recording/stimulating section 28.

For convenience of description the electrode array 10 depicted in the drawings shows only a single pair of electrodes 21. It will be understood that the number of electrodes 21 is not critical and that a greater or lesser number of electrodes can be provided, depending upon the needs of the particular application.

FIG. 3 shows a flexible electrode array 10 mounted to an introducer 32 for introducing the electrode recording/stimulating section 28 of the array 10 into the tissues of a patient. The introducer 32 comprises a wire having an upper end 33 and a lower end 34. The wire is preferably formed from a shape memory material such as nitinol. The upper portion 35 of the introducer 32 is straight, and a lower portion of the introducer is formed into a helix 36. The electrode array 10 is adhered to the introducer 32 by a layer 38 of a biocompatible, dissolvable adhesive such as mannitol.

FIGS. 4-6 illustrate a method of using the introducer 32 for placement of the electrode recording/stimulating section 28 of the flexible electrode array 10 into the body of a patient. Referring first to FIG. 4, a cannula 40 is inserted into the tissues 42 of a patient. The cannula has an upper end 44 and a lower end 46. To minimize trauma to the tissue 42, the cannula 40 can be of a diameter smaller than the diameter of the helix 36 of the introducer 32. As shown in FIG. 5, with the electrode array 10 attached to the helical introducer 32, the lower end 34 of the introducer is inserted into the upper end 44 of the cannula 40, and the introducer 32 is then rotated in the direction of the helix 36. This rotation causes the helix 36 with electrode array 10 attached thereto to unwind as it advances within the cannula 40. As the lower end 34 of the introducer 32 emerges from the lower end 46 of the cannula 40, the shape memory material of the introducer 32 causes the helix 36 with attached electrode array 10 to resume its coiled configuration within the tissues 42 of the patient.

FIG. 6 shows the introducer 32 and attached electrode array 10 with the helical portion 36 fully coiled within the tissues 42 of the patient. The upper end 33 of the introducer protrudes from the upper end 44 of the cannula 40.

After a period of exposure to fluid within the tissues, the adhesive layer coupling the electrode array 10 to the introducer 32 dissolves. Then, as shown in FIG. 7, the introducer 32 can be rotated in the direction opposite to the turns of the helix 36 to withdraw the introducer from the patient, leaving the electrode array 10 in place. FIG. 8 shows the introducer 32 fully withdrawn from the cannula 40. The cannula 40 can now be withdrawn, leaving the electrode recording/stimulating section 28 of the electrode array 10 coiled within the tissues of the patient.

FIG. 9 illustrates an alternate arrangement of the electrode array 10 and introducer 32. Rather than attaching the electrode array 10 to the introducer 32 along the entire length of the helical section 36, the electrode 10 is attached only at the tip 34 of the introducer. Attachment can be made by a dissolvable adhesive, as previously explained, or by a suitable one-way mechanical connection that will pull the electrode in a first direction but disengage when the introducer is moved in the opposite direction. When the introducer 32 is helically advanced into the tissues of a patient, the helical portion 36 of the introducer will create a helical track within the tissues. The electrode array 10 is too flexible to make its own track and will thus follow the tip 34 along the helical track created by the introducer. When the introducer 32 is subsequently backed out of the tissue, the electrode array 10 will remain in place.

FIGS. 10-12 illustrate an alternate embodiment of an electrode array 50. The electrode array 50 comprises an insulating body 52 having a first section 54 and a second section 56 extending laterally from the lower end 58 the first section 54. The insulating body 52 has an upper end 60, a front 62, and a back 64. The electrode array 50 comprises a pair of electrodes 65. Each electrode 65 comprises a conductor 66 preferably at least largely encapsulated inside the first section 54 of the body 52. Each electrode 65 further comprises an exposed electrode element 68 extending along the second section 56 of the insulating body 52. A conducting gap 70 is formed in the second section 56 of the body 52 between each adjacent pair of electrode elements 68. Exposed connector portions or bonding pads 72 are provided at the upper end of the body 52. The body 52 between the upper end 60 and the lower end 58 is 1-100 mm in length and 0.01-0.1 mm in width. The second section 56 of the body 52 of the disclosed embodiment is 0.1 to 1.0 mm in height and 1.0 to 10.0 mm in length. The electrode array 50 of the disclosed embodiment is 1-10 microns, preferably approximately 1 micron, in thickness.

As with the electrode 10, the electrode 50 can also be defined in terms of its functionality, with a connector area 73 being located adjacent its upper end 60, an electrode recording/stimulating section 74 adjacent its lower end 58, and a signal conducting region 75 in its intermediate portion interconnecting the connector area 73 and the electrode recording/stimulating section 74.

In FIG. 13 the second section 56 of the insulating body 52 with exposed electrode elements 68 (not visible in FIG. 13), also known as the electrode recording/stimulating section 74, is wrapped into a cylindrical coil 76. This coil 76 locates the electrode elements 68 in a three-dimensional matrix. The innermost turn of the coil 76 is loosely wrapped such that a hole 77 is formed in the center of the coil.

FIG. 14 depicts an assembly 80 for introducing the coil 76 of the electrode array 50 into the tissues of a patient. An electrode array 50 has its electrode recording/stimulating section wrapped into a cylindrical coil 76, as previously described. A guide wire 82 of indeterminate length extends through the hole 77 in the center of the coil 76. A length of hypodermic tubing 88 is telescopically disposed over the guide wire. The length of hypodermic tubing 88 has an outer diameter larger than the hole 77 in the center of the coil 76 such that the lower end 89 of the tubing abuts the upper surface of the coil 76.

FIGS. 15-19 illustrate a procedure for use of the device 80 to introduce the coil 76 of the electrode array 50 into the tissues 90 of a patient. Referring first to FIG. 15, the guide wire 82 is introduced into the tissues 90 and advanced under appropriate imaging technology until the forward tip 92 of the guide wire 82 is located proximate to the target site. A cannula 94 is then inserted over the guide wire 82. The proximal end of the guide wire 82 is threaded through the hole 77 in the center of the coil 76 of the electrode 50. The length of hypodermic tubing 88 is advanced over the proximal end of the guide wire until it abuts the coil 76. Thereafter further advancement of the hypodermic tubing 88 pushes the electrode 50 along the guide wire 82.

As shown in FIG. 16, the hypodermic tubing 88 is used to advance the electrode array 50 along the guide wire 82 until the coil 76 of the electrode array is located within the target site. At this point, the guide wire 82 and hypodermic tubing 88 are removed, as shown in FIGS. 17 and 18, and the cannula 86 is withdrawn, as shown in FIG. 19, leaving the coil 76 of the electrode 50 positioned within the tissues 80 of the patient. The bonding pads 72 are disposed outside the patient's body to enable the electrode array 50 to be electrically connected to external electronics for stimulating or detecting electrical activity within the tissue 90.

The purpose of coiling the electrode recording/stimulating section 74 of the electrode array 50 into a cylinder is to locate the electrodes in a three-dimensional arrangement, as opposed to the substantially linear arrangement of the electrode recording/stimulating section 24 of the electrode array 10. However, it will be appreciated that other methods of placing the electrode recording/stimulating section 24 of the electrode array 10 in a non-linear path may be implemented, such as folding the section 24 over onto itself a number of times to create a substantially box-shaped array 98 (see FIG. 20).

Manufacture of the electrode array 10 will now be explained with reference to FIGS. 21-37.

In FIG. 21, a substrate 110 receives a deposited layer of an insulating material 112. In the disclosed embodiment, the substrate is glass, quartz, silicon. Also in the disclosed embodiment, the insulating material is polyimide deposited in a layer 200-500 nanometers thick.

In FIG. 22, a layer of conducting material 114 has been deposited atop the layer of insulating material 112. In the disclosed embodiment, the layer of conducting material is gold, platinum, or other noble metal approximately 200-500 nanometers thick.

FIG. 23 shows a layer of photoresist material 116 deposited on top of the layer of conducting material 114. In the disclosed embodiment, the photoresist material is deposited in a layer 200 nanometers thick.

Referring now to FIG. 24, an optical mask 118 comprising a translucent backing sheet 120 and opaque masking areas 122 is positioned above the photoresist layer 116. UV light is then directed onto the optical mask 118 such that it shines through the areas between the opaque masking areas 122 and onto the photoresist layer 116 beneath.

In FIG. 25, the photoresist layer 116 has been chemically developed to remove those areas 130 that have been exposed to the UV light.

In FIG. 26 a chemical etching agent is applied onto the chemically developed photoresist layer 116. The chemical etching agent etches apertures 132 in the conducting material 114 through the apertures 130 in the developed photoresist layer 116. Upon completion of the chemical etching process, the conducting material 114 is now the finished conductors 22.

FIG. 27 illustrates that the photoresist layer 116 has been removed from the top of the conductors 22. In the disclosed embodiment the removal is accomplished by placing the assembly in, e.g., acetone.

In FIG. 28, additional insulating material has been deposited onto and around the conductors 22 to create a layer 136 that extends above the tops of the conductors. Again, in the disclosed embodiment the insulating material is polyimide.

In FIG. 29, a mask 138 for plasma etch has been deposited on top of the layer 136 of insulating material. FIG. 30 shows a layer of photoresist 140 added atop the mask 138.

In FIG. 31, an optical mask 142 comprising a translucent backing sheet 144 and opaque masking areas 146 is positioned above the photoresist layer 140. UV light is then directed onto the optical mask 142 such that it shines through the areas between the opaque masking areas 146 and onto the photoresist layer 140 beneath.

Referring now to FIG. 32, the photoresist layer 140 has been chemically developed to remove those areas 148 that have been exposed to the UV light, thereby exposing selected portions of the insulating layer 136.

In FIG. 33, a chemical etching agent has been applied onto the chemically developed photoresist layer 140. The chemical etching agent etches the mask for plasma etch 142 through the apertures 148 (FIG. 32) in the developed photoresist layer 140. Upon completion of the chemical etching process, the mask for plasma etch 142 comprises apertures 150 formed therethrough.

In FIG. 34 the photoresist layer 140 (see, e.g., FIG. 33) has been removed to expose the mask 138 with apertures 150 formed therethrough. In FIG. 35, the insulating layer 136 is etched with plasma through the apertures 150 in the mask 138. This plasma etching process removes selected portions of the insulating layer 136 to expose the electrodes 24 and bonding pads 25.

In FIG. 36 the mask 138 for plasma etch (see, e.g., FIG. 34) has been removed to expose the upper surface of the insulating layer 136.

FIG. 37 shows the finished electrode array 10 removed from the substrate 110.

Unless otherwise stated, terms used herein such as “top,” “bottom,” “upper,” “lower,” “left,” “right,” “front,” “back,” “proximal,” “distal,” and the like are used only for convenience of description and are not intended to limit the invention to any particular orientation.

Finally, it will be understood that the preferred embodiment has been disclosed by way of example, and that other modifications may occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8457764Jun 30, 2011Jun 4, 2013Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbhEar implant electrode and method of manufacture
US20120078268 *Jun 21, 2010Mar 29, 2012Medtronic. IncArcuate introducer
EP2587994A1 *Jun 30, 2011May 8, 2013MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geräte GmbHHelical core ear implant electrode
WO2012003295A1 *Jun 30, 2011Jan 5, 2012Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbhEar implant electrode and method of manufacture
Classifications
U.S. Classification607/116
International ClassificationA61N1/04
Cooperative ClassificationA61N1/05
European ClassificationA61N1/05
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 4, 2013ASAssignment
Effective date: 20130228
Owner name: ST. JUDE MEDICAL, INC., MINNESOTA
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:CARDIOMEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:029915/0501
Mar 31, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: CARDIOMEMS, INC., GEORGIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:O BRIEN, DAVID;REEL/FRAME:022474/0233
Effective date: 20070103